Shenae Bell '11

   Shenae Bell


The beginning!


Hey there! My name is Shenae Bell and I am a summer intern at the Admissions Office here at Amherst College. I am pretty far from home since I come to you from the small island of Jamaica in the Caribbean. Nevertheless, I decided to spend my summer on campus because I am truly enthusiastic about this small liberal arts college I attend. As a result, I wanted to share my enthusiasm with as many prospective students as I could, and so decided to  forgo the Jamaican summer sunshine for that of Amherst. I just completed my first week in the office where I have a host of duties, not least of which is giving tours. I must admit that that is the best part of my job. As I tell the students and their families about the school, I too find myself impressed with all it has to offer. I definitely have a new appreciation for it. Unfortunately, being here, as I said, means being away from my family and my little country in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. I definitely miss my mom and dad but I talk to them on the phone every day (a bit much, I know, but I appreciate the input of my parental unit) so it doesn't seem so bad. The Jamaican culture is less easy to supplement, however, and I could definitely do with some of my native cooking. Regardless, I am enjoying my time here since it is a welcome reprieve after the stress of finals.

I have just completed my second year and am looking forward to being a junior, especially since I hope to be spending it studying abroad in Europe. I've always wanted to go and now I am. London will be my first stop, and since I am an English major I am very excited to compare and contrast firsthand the literatures and cultures of the Caribbean, the U.S, and the British. Still, I sometimes find it difficult to believe I will be starting the third year of college in a few months. It feels like I just got here. I spent most of my last two years involved with affinity groups here on campus such as the Black Student Union or the African and Caribbean students Union. I also worked in the library and did a short stint with Campus Security. In the future I also hope to explore some volunteer opportunities in South America or the Caribbean since I am familiar with the type of problems they face, and am really interested in helping out in any way I can. Hopefully Iwill be able to do that next summer. For now, however, the Admissions Office is where I am, and I look forward to what the rest of the summer has in store. Feel free to email me at, I love receiving emails. Until next time!


Shenae's Blog Entries (listed chronologically, latest to earliest)

Goodnight, you've been a wonderful audience!

Ladies and gentlemen, we have finally come to the end of the summer and I just want to say that you guys were great. The tours were fabulous and the questions were very insightful. I hope I helped just a little bit and inspired some of you to apply to Amherst, or at least consider it. Working in the office has been a blast, and I was pleasantly surprised at how smoothly everything went around here. It was an absolutely pleasure to come in every day, though of course, sometimes the weather took its toll on us.

Walking around campus now is less strange since the first years are here, walking in groups and looking around in awe and wonder at their new home...aww, the memories! I crashed their orientation fair and spent about an hour in the photo booth with my friends taking random pictures so I can have them with me when I go abroad. Seems like this year is gonna be really fun around here, and I must admit that I already miss Amherst though I have not left yet.

For those of you who now know that that you would like to be one of those firsties next year or in the future, I wish you luck. Say hi if we ever meet in val (and believe me we probably will), and try to live in North Dorm if you can. That's where all the cool freshmen live...the rest of the college might say the weird freshmen but they are just  jealous.


p.s. Since I need to learn to speak British fluently, I will say Cheers!

Weeks 8 and 9 (I have been a bad blogger, forgive me)

Hello There!

I have been remiss in my duties to blog about my life here at Amherst College for the summer. I am now back, however, and I just want to tell you guys that the summer continues to run smoothly. There is a just a month left to go and I am looking forward more and more to studying abroad in London my Fall semester. Most of my friends are going abroad at some point during the year as well, so I hope to be doing some travelling with them. We'll see. Typically about 44% of the Junior class study abroad. Last year 50% of the Juniors went because we are absolutely crazy about study abroad around here. I can't wait to be off!

Tours continue to be my favorite part of the job but the groups keep getting bigger and bigger, and  I think the weather makes people less patient with this inconvenience. Unfortunately, there is not much the tour guides can do to alleviate that so we try to make the best of it so that visitors always leave with some of our enthusiasm for Amherst College. I'm sure that is the case because we've had some great people on the tour so far.

Anyway, a couple of my friends came to see me last weekend and we all had a blast! We spent half of the time arguing, and the other half laughing up a storm! Aaah, I miss the good old days in Jamaica when we spent the entire school week doing just that as we studied and wrote papers and stressed over college applications. Those days are gone now so I must look to the future and I must say it looks bright! bright as London can look.

Til next time.

p.s., will write more about the application process next time, but I just thought that I would lighten it up a bit for now.

Week 7 (I was on vacation Week 6)

I am sorry I got back to you all so late this week. As I said, I was on vacation but now I am back and looking forward to helping you as much as I can. Remember, however, that I am just a student and have no special insight into the admissions process beyond that which past experience and listening to the Deans' information sessions have taught me. Nevertheless, continue to send me your emails and I will try to get you in touch with the right people if you have exhausted all other avenues and are stuck.

So...I know I said I would help you with the college process so I thought I would address one of the most important parts today. The transcript is the best instrument you have at your disposal to show how well you will do as a student at college. SAT's are also important, but transcripts show your consistency or lack thereof, and provide insight into who you are academically. If you are strong academically, that is wonderful. That is what colleges are looking for. Make sure you are taking the most challenging classes available at your school; this shows that you are invested in your education and colleges love that stuff. Whether it is AP classes, or CAPE as in my circumstance, make sure you show you are not afraid of taking on a challenging workload. Also keep in mind that colleges often use a holistic approach to looking at applications, so they will look at it in its entirety and then compare you to students like yourself who are operating within an environment similar to yours.

If you are weaker academically than you would like, use the time between now and the regular decision deadline to improve your grades and maybe do some extra credit work if you can. Grades are not the end all, be all of the application, but they do matter so keep up the good work! Get A's  preferably. I know, it is easier said than done, but do you best so at the end of the day you can feel satisfied with your efforts. Self-satisfaction is more important than any outside validation, believe me.

Now on to more important things...I watched the sixth Harry Potter film and decided it was not so bad. It can't compare to the book, of course, but then again movies often disappoint if you have read the book beforehand. I was not bowled over by the film and felt about it the way I felt about Transformers had so much potential to be better. I hope New Moon is good, My heart cannot take three disappointments in a row ( I know Twilight was bad... but it was in a totally good way). Don't judge me. You know you liked that movie! Til next time.

Same Old, Same Old (WEEK 5)

Hello there fellow internationals and hopefully future Amherstites! Just in the office and thought I would say hi. I have no admissions information to give you right now, because the emails I have received are basically about the whole admissions process, and that will differ across individuals since everyone is at different points. I will try to think up the general points and write my next blog about it. If you could be more specific in your questions, however, I would be able to be more helpful.

Anyway, yesterday I did my last tour of the day in the pouring rain with no umbrella. It was quite an experience but the tour group was invested in seeing the Amherst campus, and one must give them the respect due to such committed people. As their tour guide I was in awe of them and could do no less than pummel through--in wet pants, flip flops, and all. I haven't caught a cold yet and I'm hoping I don't because it could be a little awkward leading tours with a stuffy nose. I need to breathe to talk...and I talk ...a lot. I also don't want to catch a cold because I will be off on vacation in the NYC and I don't want anything to make it less awesome than it could be.

Enough about me. Send me some emails and we'll talk about you, and getting you into Amherst!

Til next time!

4th of July (WEEK 4)

So 4th of July just rolled around and to be really honest I was not particularly excited like everybody around me seemed to be. It just wasn't part of my vocabulary as a Jamaican student in an American town. As a result I sort of forgot about the whole thing until I woke up to the sounds of bagpipe music and and a group of fire trucks and police cars outside of my window. At first I thought there was an extensive fire accompanied by a Scottish soundtrack but apparently it was a parade. It was all very interesting, actually. When I opened another window I saw a huge group of people in the neighbouring yard having a barbeque and staring staright at me. I must say, 4th of July just might be something I have to slowly transition into. It was an experience, and I had alot of laughs.

Now on to admissions information. Many of you seem to be anxious about your chances of getting into Amherst College and I can understand that. It is the most selective Liberal Arts College in the U.S. Nevertheless, I implore you never to talk yourself out of an opportunity. The only way you can be sure you will never get in is if you don't try. Yes, it is competitive, and yes, you will have to put in the effort. This will always be the case when you aim high. If you get in then it goes to show that you have shown Amherst's standards. If you don't then you have not failed. Instead you are placed in the position of showing that you can deal with disappointment and learn from it. Sometimes we learn more from not getting what we want than we do from anything else. The important thing is just to try.

Remember that you all have something worthwhile to offer, and that the worst thing they can say is no. But on the other hand...maybe, just maybe, they might say yes!


Just some facts for my International friends. (WEEK 3)

It seems to me that International students make up the majority of the people who read my blog, so I just wanted to tell you a few choice things. First, Amherst College offers admission on a need-blind basis to International students as well. That means that if you get in it will be on the basis of your application, not whether you can afford the tuition or not. Secondly, the aid is need-based so the school will provide your full demonstrated need if you are accepted. Here's a link so you can learn some more:  International Aid.  That said, I hope you guys are pacing yourselves with this application process. I know how stressful it can be since I have been through it and have helped several others through it as well. Just remember to take it one step at a time and don't leave everything until the last minute. That is what trips alot of people up and results in a hurried and sloppy application. Remember, if you don't care about your application, then the Deans might not care too much either. Feel free to email me any questions, comments, or concerns at

On a lighter note, I just want to say that I am personally very excited that Transformers 2 is about to come out. I am a huge fan of all things Shia LaBeauf and Steven Spielberg so this should be soooo good. Never underestimate the power of a good book or a good movie to lift your spirits people, they can work miracles. I am somewhat homesick right now; I'm definitely missing my parents and my cousins. As a result I look to this movie to offer me some therapy...and it will only cost me six bucks. We're going through a recession, how's that for conserving funds?

And so it continues... (WEEK 2)

It's me again. So I have just completed another week here at Admissions and the rest of the Interns and myself are just getting into the groove of the place. Giving tours is still the best part of my job, though I must admit that some tours are more interesting than others. I do try to liven things up a bit, but some people are more receptive than others to my very witty jokes (in reality they may not be as witty as I like to think they are). Nevertheless, I look forward to the rest of my time here and am happy to report that I have already had one respondent to this blog. Now I know that at least one person has happened upon my blog and cares to read it. You made my day lone respondent, and I look forward to hearing from more of you as time progresses. You can reach me at

Life outside the Office is no less interesting to me. Having to cook for myself is quite the undertaking, I must admit. Alas, it is something I must do since Valentine Dining Hall is closed to me and my mother is far far away on that little island I call home. I have already had a go at pork and chicken, and they turned out really well. The other Interns call me the cook of the house, and I know my mother would die laughing if she heard such a title was ever distributed upon so unworthy a cook as myself. Before now my culinary skills were limited to making cereal and frying eggs and plantains. Necessity is the mother of invention, and thus the need to actually eat has made me a  less pathetic cook. Now I view each foray into the kitchen as an adventure, and each departure from it with something edible, much less delicious, as an accomplishment. I have not had food poisoning yet so I must be doing something right.

I know you must not be very interested in what I do or do not eat, but I must tell you that when you have to cook for yourself it becomes a source of great concern to you. Life outside the kitchen is not nearly so interesting, I have yet to go to that pond everybody keeps talking about, nor have I been out to any place but the movies. Unfortunately, I have been spending much of my free time watching Project Runway on Youtube, instead of doing anything particularly productive. Since I just finished my second year, however, I'll give myself the rest of the month to lounge about. I will say it is my reward for surviving another year at college. After that I will read all those books I didn't have the time to read, go the places I didn't bring myself to go, and just explore the rest of the town of Amherst. Hopefully, I'll then have more interesting things to tell you about than what I have been cooking!

One thing that I have noticed from my tours is that many people are worried about a lack of things to do at a small college. I encourage you to have a look at the wealth of student organizations and clubs here on campus. There is literally something for everyone. There is no end to the number of things that will be going on at any one time here at Amherst College, or across the way at any of the other four colleges within 10 miles of us. The five  college consortium will definitely give you more options than you will know what to do with. For me, attending a school like Amherst, situated so close to other schools of high academic standing, is like living in a huge house with numerous siblings to hang out with, but yet I still have my own space should I need it. It is a pretty awesome feeling knowing that there are 35, 000 college kids around to socialize with, four other colleges to explore, and no end of activities to occupy my time----that is, when i actually have it (in other words, not during finals!). That was my tour guide mode, but it's true, and it's awesome. Come check us out if you're ever in the neighborhood. Remember, I love giving tours so i'd love to have you. Bye for now.